CHÂTEAU LAURIER ADDITION: A CALL TO ACTION TO LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTS EVERYWHERE

Monday, September 16, 2019

ONTARIO ASSOCIATION OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTS (OALA)

On Wednesday, September 18, 2019, the Committee of Adjustment of the City of Ottawa will hear an application by the developer LARCO Investments for variances from the Zoning Bylaw. This hearing is the last opportunity to seriously challenge and hopefully defeat the proposed addition to the Chateau Laurier National Historic Site which has a devastating impact on the experiential qualities of the cultural landscapes around it.

Buildings are elements of the landscape. If landscape architects have a concern about the impact of architecture on rich cultural landscapes that happen to be part of our Canadian identity (!) then the addition to the Chateau Laurier National Historic Site in Ottawa would be the case to make that case, and Monday 16th and Tuesday 17th are the days to send in your e-mail to the Committee of Adjustment. This is consistent with the Canadian Landscape Charter which states that it seeks to "consider all people by ensuring that all landscape interventions contribute to how people experience their physical and sensory environment, while protecting and/or enhancing Canada’s heritage and creating a better place to live now and in the future.”

The fate of the landscape around Chateau Laurier hangs on the voices that are heard or read at the Committee of Adjustment this week on Wednesday, September 18, 2019.  At this stage, individual expressions are sought above all, but of course associations are very important too.

For those who have not followed the issue, this is not about objecting to a modern piece of architecture, this is about objecting to the creation of a barrier, a wall right across the back of the Chateau Laurier, instead of ensuring a footprint that carefully and sensitively engages the adjacent public park, and instead of developing a contemporary roofline that connects the earth to the sky in a highly dynamic, creative expression.

Many, including Phyllis Lambert founder of Heritage Montreal, have expressed that the proposed work of architecture will appear as a barrier that will have a negative impact on the experiential qualities of Major’s Hill Park. Also, in late fall, winter, and spring, the National Gallery of Canada, a national cultural institution, is going to have an open view of this ‘barrier’ addition across one of the masterpieces, the Taiga landscape, of our own Governor General’s award winning landscape architect, Cornelia Oberlander. The experiential qualities of our Canadian national symbol, our Parliament Hill laid out by celebrated landscape architect Calvert Vaux, renown for his work on Central Park New York, will be diminished by views towards this incompatible addition to the Chateau Laurier, as will be the experience of the Ottawa Locks and the Rideau Canal World Heritage Site.

Today Monday, September 16 and tomorrow Tuesday 17 are crucial days for landscape architects in Ontario and indeed across CANADA to send in an e-mail no matter how brief to object to the proposed design and footprint of the Chateau Laurier addition because it has a negative impact on the experiential qualities of the cultural landscape in which it resides and to respectfully ask the Committee of Adjustment NOT to grant a minor variance from the Zoning Bylaw’.  Please do not forget to provide your name and coordinates.  You are also welcome to appear in person. The Heritage Ottawa Web link provides details of how to act: https://heritageottawa.org/news/chateau-laurier-proposed-addition-committee-of-adjustment-sept-18

Architects such as Ottawa’s Barry Padolsky have also made a call to action to protect the visual character and identity of the National Capital.

Thank you.